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Budget for FEMA flood maps slashed

Oh come on! ProPublica has a story out today “As Need for New Flood Maps Rises, Congress and Obama Cut Funding”. This shows the absolute — not to mention dangerous — idiocy of our Federal legislators’ feverish obsession with cutting the US budget. People, please, the US budget deficit is under control and shrinking faster than the CBO originally estimated. Meanwhile, our public infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes — another bridge collapsed a few days ago, this time in WA — and our emergency preparedness is in dire need of being updated. This is not the time for austerity (see Krugman, “How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled.”).

The maps, drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, dictate the monthly premiums millions of American households pay for flood insurance. They are also designed to give homeowners and buyers the latest understanding of how likely their communities are to flood.

The government’s response to the rising need for accurate maps? It’s slashed funding for them.

Congress has cut funding for updating flood maps by more than half since 2010, from $221 million down to $100 million this year. And the president’s latest budget request would slash funding for mapping even further to $84 million — a drop of 62 percent over the last four years.

In a little-noticed written response to questions from a congressional hearing, FEMA estimated the cuts would delay its map program by three to five years. The program “will continue to make progress, but more homeowners will rely on flood hazard maps that are not current,” FEMA wrote.

The cuts have slowed efforts to update flood maps across the country.

In New England, for instance, FEMA is updating coastal maps but has put off updating many flood maps along the region’s rivers, said Kerry Bogdan, a senior engineer with FEMA’s floodplain mapping program in Boston.

“Unfortunately, without the money to do it, we’re limited and our hands are kind of tied,” she said.

Many of the flood maps in Vermont — including areas near Lake Champlain that have recently flooded — are decades out of date. “There are definitely communities that really need that data,” said Ned Swanberg, the flood hazard mapping coordinator with Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Wow! xkcd maps Congress’s political leanings since the start of the republic

Randall Munroe has outdone himself. XKCD, the “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” just posted another amazing, wall-sized infographic, this one depicting the historical ideological swings of left, right and center of the US Senate and House of Representatives (here are Randall’s other *huge* and hugely fascinating infographics).

Be sure to read the side boxes and especially the one on methodology of how ideology was calculated. He meticulously accounts for the historical shift in the left/right spectrum between Republicans and Democrats.

That is all.

[HT BoingBoing!]

Good news for census/maps/GIS geeks: TIGERweb set to release

This looks like a great new tool to access geographic data from the US Census Bureau. For more, check out Introduction to TIGERweb (YouTube video below).

The U.S. Census Bureau is going through the final integration tests for the next TIGERweb release. TIGERweb v2.0 (beta) will consist of a new set of map services using American Community Survey (ACS) 2011 source data, an upgraded viewer application based on comments received from our users, and a relocation of our Census 2010 viewer to TIGERweb2010. We hope to release this new version the week of September 17, 2012. Expect more information about this release later this week.

If you have any questions or comments about TIGERweb, you may contact us by sending a message to geo.tigerweb@census.gov.

NARA, Sweden, ILO, Online Maps, Voting, Statistics, NASA, TOXNET, Transporation, DOT, Smithsonian, Federal Regulations, Energy

Another in our series of roundups of news and new resources via INFOdocket.com. 15 items in all.

Federal Sources

1. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Releases Beta Versions of Several New Features

2. A Redesigned Regulations.gov Website Now Live With Many New Features

3. Smithsonian Launches New Website for Teaching African American Civil Rights Through American Art

4. Transportation: RITA Launches U.S. DOT Research Hub Searchable Database (Beta)

5. NLM Releases Mobile Interface to TOXNET Databases

6. A New Interactive Infographic From NASA Looks at The Future of American Human Space Flight

7. U.S. Census Releases Graphs on Historical Voting Trends

8. Archivist of the United States on the Competencies NARA Wants For Archives Specialists

Additional Items That Might Be of Interest

9. More Than 10 Million Digitized Newspaper Pages Coming to Europeana

10. Create Custom Neighborhood Maps (Quickly Search/Locate/Visualize Neighborhoods Located In Any Zip Code)

11. Online Database: NORMLEX (Information System on International Labour Standards) From ILO

12. Foreign Affairs Releases Complete Online Archive, All Articles Back to Vol. 1, No. 1 (1922) Available

13. U.Va. Library’s New Streaming Oral History Project Tells the Legal Story of the Civil Rights Struggle

14. New Interactive Site/Database Features Info About Wyoming’s Electrical Generation Facilities

15. Legal Reasons: National Library of Sweden Will Not Archive Personal Blogs or Online Video Games

New & Free: USGS Releases More than 200,000 Historical Maps From 1884-2006

Via INFOdocket:

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Historical Quadrangle Scanning Project (HQSP) is in the process of releasing all editions and all scales of more than 200,000 historic topographic maps of the United States dating from 1884-2006.


The historical topographic map collection includes all States and U.S. territories mapped by the USGS. The HQSP creates a master catalogue and digital archive for all topographic maps and provides easy access to the public to download this historical data to accompany topographic maps that are no longer available for distribution as lithographic prints.

Historical maps are available to the public at no cost in GeoPDF format from the USGS Store. These maps are georeferenced and can be used in conjunction with the new USGS digital topographic map, the US Topo.

News Release and Links